Rus­sia plagued with bomb threats

The London Free Press - - CANADA - Daria litvi­nova

• The Krem­lin con­demned hun­dreds of bomb threats made by anony­mous tele­phone call­ers against ma­jor pub­lic build­ings in Rus­sia as “tele­phone ter­ror­ism.” More than 150,000 peo­ple were evac­u­ated from schools, hos­pi­tals, ho­tels, shop­ping cen­tres, air­ports, rail­ways sta­tions and uni­ver­si­ties tar­geted by the bomb threats in at least 30 Rus­sian cities since Mon­day. Dozens of build­ings in Moscow and St. Peters­burg were evac­u­ated Wed­nes­day, but no traces of ex­plo­sive de­vices have been found in any of the build­ings. Of­fi­cials from Rus­sian se­cu­rity ser­vices in­ves­ti­gat­ing the calls are yet to make any of­fi­cial state­ments. “Once there are re­sults, se­cu­rity ser­vices will an­nounce them,” said Dmitry Peskov, the Krem­lin spokesman. “It is a dif­fi­cult task, and it re­quires pa­tience.” Rus­sian me­dia have of­fered sev­eral dif­fer­ent ex­pla­na­tions as to who may be be­hind the calls, based on in­for­ma­tion from anony­mous sources close to law en­force­ment. Ear­lier this week the staterun RIA Novosti news agency sug­gested that calls were com­ing from Ukraine, Rus­sia’s ad­ver­sary since the 2014 an­nex­a­tion of Crimea. Yes­ter­day, RIA Novosti re­ported that se­cu­rity ser­vices have in­for­ma­tion that peo­ple be­hind the at­tack were con­nected to the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL), and per­pe­tra­tors would soon be put on in­ter­na­tional wanted lists. Sources close to Rus­sia’s Fed­eral Se­cu­rity Ser­vice (FSB) told RBC yes­ter­day that it had tracked down “the source” of the at­tack. The Daily Tele­graph was un­able to ver­ify any of the claims in­de­pen­dently. The FSB’s press of­fice was not avail­able for com­ments, and a spokesman from the in­te­rior min­istry told The Tele­graph it did not have “any in­for­ma­tion about this.” Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, evac­u­a­tions and in­spec­tions have dis­rupted work of hun­dreds of fa­cil­i­ties all over the coun­try, from Kalin­ingrad in the west to Vladi­vos­tok in the far east. An ad­min­is­tra­tor of a mall in Bryansk told the Kom­m­er­sant news­pa­per that the num­ber dis­played on her phone started with +88, the coun­try code for Bangladesh. The caller spoke in Rus­sian and told her to “leave the build­ing” be­cause “there is a bomb in­side.” The most re­cent call iden­ti­fied Red Square, the main tourist at­trac­tion point in Moscow, next to the Krem­lin, as a sup­posed tar­get. The calls are dif­fi­cult to trace be­cause they are made over the in­ter­net and are pro­cessed by dif­fer­ent servers, in­clud­ing ones abroad, Gen­nady Gud­kov, a Moscow­based se­cu­rity expert and for­mer par­lia­men­tar­ian said. “That’s why the law en­force­ment hasn’t been able to catch any­one so far,” he said, adding that the wave of calls is likely to be a crim­i­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion rather than an anti-ter­ror­ism drill, be­cause peo­ple would usu­ally be warned in ad­vance.

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